Children need ‘write’ stuff to develop language skills

Looking to help your child become a strong writer? Giving them the “write” stuff is easier than you think! As your child’s most important teacher, you have the ability and opportunity to foster a love for writing. Here are a few tips, tricks, and strategies to help your child as they develop as a reader, writer, and lover of language.

Penmanship/Handwriting — If you cannot read the writing, what is the purpose of writing in the first place? Practice makes permanent, so if the way students practice is incorrect, they will continue to do it that way and it will be a difficult habit to break. Here are a few things to always remember about student handwriting:

Every letter and number starts at the top. This will make the transition to cursive easier.

Loosen up: A student’s grip on the tool should not cause finger exhaustion.

Fine motor control: practice coloring inside of lines encourages students’ control over their actions.

Multi-sensory activities: Allow your child to “feel the letter” by writing in the air, in sand, or on a tablet drawing app, using a finger.

These exercises are good warm-ups before starting a longer handwriting session.

Spelling — As children learn to write and spell, it is common for them to make mistakes. Point out and praise mistakes that make sense (e.g. writing tode instead of toad, pepl instead of people).

Children often use invented spelling to communicate a message they want to write, but may not yet be able to do so “correctly.”

As children learn to write, try to look beyond simple mistakes with spelling and grammar, and be sure to comment on the ideas, content, and message of their writing.

Writing Opportunity — Create and encourage opportunities for your child to write. Work together to write your shopping list, and have them read the items to you as you shop.

Need a last-minute gift for a friend or relative? Don’t buy something trivial or meaningless — have your child write them a story or card. If your child loves to tell stories, have them write it down and illustrate it. Or type the story for them as they tell it aloud, and add clipart or pictures together and then print or email it for family and friends to enjoy!

Write down an online recipe together, and try to make it for dinner. If you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day or car ride, try a fun game like Mad Libs or Scattergories.

Mix it Up — Writing does not always need to be done with pencils; try something different! Use markers, paint, computers, big crayons or markers with bigger pieces of paper, golf pencils, poetry magnets, chalk, or anything else you can think of to keep things fun, interesting, and unusual!

When it comes to finding the “write” stuff, anything you can do together is a step in the “write” direction. When it becomes a chore, it becomes a bore – have fun, and make your family’s writing experience a happily ever after!

George Stockero Jr. is the superintendent of the Copper Country Intermediate School District.